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Bulgaria: Army Cannot Afford To Buy Russian Fighters

Sofia, 14 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's army chief of staff said Saturday he sees no possibility now of clinching a deal with Russia to buy Russian-made fighter planes.

General Miho Mihov, until recently commander of Bulgaria's air force, said in a radio interview that Bulgaria could not afford now to buy the 40 MIG-29 planes as proposed by Russia.

Our correspondent says Moscow has offered to sell the fighter planes to Bulgaria at preferential prices and a credit of $450 million to back up the purchase. Russia however insists that together with the planes Bulgaria buy equipment for a plant to repair Russian-made planes, a condition Bulgaria rejects.

Both President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov have previously been quoted by local media as saying Bulgaria could not afford the purchase at this time.